Sajith seeks cosultation with SLFP, as SLFP-SLPP talks falter

Sajith Premadasa, just named the United National Party’s candidate for the November 16 presidential election, has sought a meeting with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to discuss recent political developments.

His request has been channelled to Dayasiri Jayasekera, General Secretary of the SLFP, by Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the UNP counterpart. It has been done after UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe gave him the approval for the meeting after he was informed of the request.

The Sunday Times learns that Mr. Premadasa plans to have initial round of talks with General Secretary Jayasekera on possible SLFP support for his candidature. If the talks are successful, it will eventually lead to talks with President Maithripala Sirisena.

Yesterday, at noon, President Sirisena failed in his attempts to persuade the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to change the symbol of its candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

SLPP Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday declined a request from President Maithripala Sirisena to change his party’s Pohottuwa symbol at the November 16 presidential election.

This was in return for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to extend support to SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary. The SLFP parliamentary group decided on Friday night to extend such support if the budding lotus flower (Pohottuwa) symbol is changed, the President told a three-member SLPP delegation.

SLPP and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times, “We politely explained to the President that it is now too late for us to make any changes. However, we did agree the matter could be considered for the next parliamentary elections.”

The former President met his successor, President Sirisena, in the company of candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa and SLPP architect Basil Rajapaksa at noon yesterday at the Presidential Secretariat. The discussion centered on the President’s request. He later responded that the SLPP response would be placed before tomorrow night’s Central Committee meeting and its decision would be conveyed.

Originally, the latest appeal to join the SLPP-led Sri Lanka People’s Alliance (SLPA) came just hours after Prime Minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe ceded his party’s candidature to Sajith Premadasa. President Sirisena had a meeting with Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday night on moves to join the SLPA.

Last morning, President Sirisena met partner members of the SLPA at his Mahagamsekera Mawatha residence in a bid to persuade the SLPP leadership to agree to his party’s request. Dinesh Gunawardena (Mahajana Eksath Peramuna) and Wimal Weerawansa (National Freedom Front) were among those who declared it was too late for the SLPA to now change the symbol of its candidate. Here again, President Sirisena later declared that he would place their response before the Central Committee.

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